People Profiles

Postdoc Profile: Dr. Gertjan Lucas

July 07, 2016

Dr. Gertjan Lucas has a knack for difficult puzzles — especially business situations where pieces to the puzzle are missing or do not fit at all. As a skilled researcher, he is trained to figure out what is missing from theories, models, and real-world problems. As an avid fan of problem solving, he lives for the thrill of discovering solutions.

It's a skill that serves him well in his current postdoctoral work at the Beedie School of Business, where he is studying the Hollywood film industry. He is aiming to discover what significantly influences decision-makers like producers, directors, and studio executives when they are evaluating performance. His early findings suggest decision-makers are selective in the type of performance information they will pay attention to. Some decisions are made based on what critics are saying; others are based on how much money was made at the box office. Which of these is most important appears to be systematically related to the decision-makers in question. 

Dr. Lucas obtained his PhD from Tilburg University, in The Netherlands, where he studied how decision-makers in businesses tackle new initiatives. Investing in innovation is risky; despite of that, decision-makers must decide whether to invest in innovation in order to improve performance of a firm. Determining whether performance is satisfactory or not in light of the organization's goals, however, can be complex. Some pieces of the puzzle may point towards satisfactory performance, while others may suggest unsatisfactory performance. For his dissertation work Dr. Lucas showed how enlightening this apparent contradiction can be for businesses.

“Rather than letting it paralyze them, decision-makers are able to glean additional insight from contradictory evaluations of their organization’s performance and act accordingly” Dr. Lucas concludes. His doctoral work is valuable in his postdoctoral research because “we can more precisely predict how specific decision-makers will respond when a particular aspect of their film’s performance is unsatisfactory”.

Dr. Lucas has presented his work at many international conferences, and has a number of publications under his belt, including "Contradictory yet Coherent? Inconsistency in Performance Feedback and R&D Investment Change", which was published in the Journal of Management, one of the top journals in his field.

Next to his academic endeavors, Dr. Lucas is currently the Vice-President External Communications at SFU’s Postdoctoral Association (PDA). As part of this organization, he has contributed to raising the profile of Postdoctoral Fellows within SFU’s academic community. At the helm of the PDA's communication strategy, he has been a driving force in keeping postdoctoral fellows at SFU informed of important developments and events. Furthermore, he was one of the initiators of the flagship event for postdocs, the annual SFU Postdoctoral Research Day.

Dr. Lucas is planning to broaden his career as a faculty member at a university in Europe, paving the way for a productive and impactful career as a management scholar.

Speaking of the future ahead, he had the following to say: “I am eager to inspire students, fellow researchers, and practitioners to become innovative problem solvers with a passion for difficult puzzles.” 


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